Category Archives: Papal Infallibility

It’s extremely complex

Roman Catholics are forced to rely on private interpretation in order to avoid the pitfalls of private interpretation.
Roman Catholics are forced to rely on private interpretation in order to avoid the pitfalls of private interpretation.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “revelation,” or the “deposit of faith,” is that “which has been committed” to the Roman Catholic church, “and which she proposes to all her members for their acceptance.” As Catholic Answers helpfully defines, the “doctrines of the Catholic Church are the deposit of faith revealed by Jesus Christ, taught by the apostles, and handed down in their entirety by the apostles to their successors.” Having been entrusted with “the faith which was once delivered” (Jude 3), the  Roman Catholic church is alleged to be the only authorized custodian and teacher of that deposit (Catholic Encyclopedia, Revelation). Continue reading It’s extremely complex

“A significant turning point…”

The conception of Mary occurred 400 years before Rome even dreamed of its immaculacy.
Mary’s conception was understood by the Early Church to be no different than ours, until “a significant turning point” occurred toward the end of the 4th century.

Readers who have been following this blog are familiar with our position that Roman Catholicism as a religion originated in the latter part of the 4th century A.D. The religion of Rome is not of apostolic origin. As we explained in The Rise of Roman Catholicism, distinctively Roman Catholic dogma can be traced to the late 300s A.D., no earlier. In that article, we touched briefly on the late development of the immaculacy of Mary in the imagination of Rome. This week, we explore the magnitude of Rome’s historical revisionism in its attempt to prove the apostolicity of the dogma of her “Immaculate Conception.” Continue reading “A significant turning point…”

If the Light that is in Thee be Darkness (the Bowls, part 5)

"When the Church makes something infallible, I wish they would just do it plainly and clearly." — Robert Sungenis, August 5, 2008
“When the Church makes something infallible, I wish they would just do it plainly and clearly.” — Robert Sungenis, August 5, 2008

This week we continue our series on the Bowls of Judgment in Revelation 16. The first four Bowls thus far are:

The First Bowl: The Stigmata (1224 A.D. – present)
The Second Bowl: The Plague of Scurvy (1453 – late 1700s A.D.)
The Third Bowl: The Dogma of Papal Infallibility (1870 A.D.)
The Fourth Bowl: Scorching by the Sun at Fátima (1917 A.D.)

The First Bowl was poured out “upon the earth” (Revelation 16:2), the Second “upon the sea” (Revelation 16:3), the Third “upon the rivers and fountains of waters” (Revelation 16:4) and the Fourth “upon the sun” (Revelation 16:8).

This Fifth Bowl is poured out directly “upon the seat of the beast” and the people “gnawed their tongues for pain” because of it (Revelation 16:10). We therefore note with no small interest that at the Third Bowl, when the Dogma of Papal Infallibility was proclaimed, the Pope was said to be infallible “when he speaks [with his tongue] ex cathedra [from his seat]”  (Vatican Council I, Pastor Æternus, chapter IV). The Pope’s seat, from which he claims to speak infallibly, is the target of this Fifth Bowl, and his kingdom is thereby plunged into darkness. Continue reading If the Light that is in Thee be Darkness (the Bowls, part 5)

They Hewed Out Broken Cisterns (The Bowls, part 3)

"...they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2:13)
“…they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

This is our third week in the series on the Bowls of Revelation. Thus far, we have covered,

The First Bowl: The Stigmata (1226 A.D. – present)
The Second Bowl: The Plague of Scurvy (1453 – late 1700s A.D.)

As we have progressed through the Seals, the Trumpets and Bowls of Revelation, we notice that there are aids to interpretation provided within the text, aids that assist in the identification of each Seal, Trumpet and Bowl. It is our conviction that each Seal, Trumpet and Bowl is sufficiently described in Revelation that it is possible to identify each particular one particularly. Whereas there have been interpretations in the past that identify the Trumpets generally as a series of calamities, we believe each calamity can be identified. The same is true of each Seal and each Bowl, and even the fractions matter (i.e., 1/3 of the trees (Revelation 8:7), 1/4 of the earth (Revelation 6:8), etc…). Continue reading They Hewed Out Broken Cisterns (The Bowls, part 3)

Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 2)

John Paul II and Mary
The visions of Mary have a long-standing, two-way, verbal relationship with the Papacy.

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Last week, we discussed the propensity of Roman Catholics to rely on visions of Mary “to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation” despite the clear instructions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church not to do so (paragraph 67). Taylor Marshall relied on several visions of Mary to bolster his argument that Jesus was born on December 25th, and Fr. Livius relied on a private revelation to help him determine the meaning of the writings of several Church Fathers. But as apologist Fr. William Most has said, “In public revelation, the Church has the promise of divine protection in teaching,” while on the content of private revelation, including apparitions, “the Church does not have such a commission.” Thus it is true that while Roman apologists cite apparitions of Mary to bolster their arguments, it is also true that Roman Catholics “can refuse assent to such revelations … provided this is done … for good reasons.” It is not uncommon (in our experience) for a Roman Catholic on the one hand to cite the many examples of apparitions as evidence that Roman Catholicism is the true church, and then, on the other hand—when the actual content of the visions is brought forward—to dismiss those same apparitions “because we are not required to believe them anyway.”

But the freedom to reject the teachings of the apparitions as “private revelation” is not so simple as that. Continue reading Mother Mary Speaks to Me (part 2)

How to resolve an historical paradox

Escher's Drawing Hands
Escher’s Drawing Hands is illustrative of Rome’s self-validating Tradition.

M. C. Escher’s Drawing Hands shows two drawn hands drawing each other, each hand getting its power to draw from the other. True to Escher’s style, a paradox is presented to the eye of the beholder, and the paradox is never resolved—the eye must continually move from one object to the other. Each time the eye settles on an apparently solid 3-dimensional object that can make sense of the rest of the picture, the paradox reappears. The search for the original, “authoritative” hand never ends.

We believe this is a good illustration of Roman Catholicism’s view of Tradition because Tradition is based on what Rome teaches, and what Rome teaches is based on Tradition. We gave an example of this in our recent post, All the Way Back. In that post, Roman priest and Marian devotee, Fr. Thomas Livius, showed the origins of Marian doctrines from the Fathers of the first six centuries. When he arrived at the teachings of Origen, Basil and Cyril—that the sword that pierced Mary’s soul (Luke 2:35) was the sword of doubt and unbelief—rather than accept that the early church understood that Mary was sinful, Livius spends his next three pages correcting Origen, as well as Basil and Cyril who agreed with him.

This raises the obvious question: Continue reading How to resolve an historical paradox

Why “Infallibility” Doesn’t Work

Roman Catholics believe that it is an infallible fallible infallible fallible teaching of the Church that Mary is the one who crushes the serpent’s head.

Last week, we highlighted the attempts by Fr. William G. Most to extract an infallible teaching from the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church. (The Magisterium is essentially the pope and the bishops who are in communion with him.) By studying the teachings of the Magisterium, William Most thought he had discovered how to arrive at an infallible teaching. By way of example, to prove that it is an infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that Mary’s physical virginity was uncompromised when Christ was born, all Most had to do was demonstrate repetition by popes and councils. Surely, Fr. Most thought, repetition is evidence of an intent to teach infallibly:

A doctrine taught with multiple papal approval plus that of Vatican II should be called infallible, for these texts show the intention to make it definitive by their repetition.

By this standard, we can conclude that it is an infallible doctrine of the Roman Church that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent in Genesis 3:15. After all, multiple popes and at least one council have confirmed this. The Council of Trent made Jerome’s translation of the Vulgate the official translation of the Roman Catholic Church. Jerome’s translation of Genesis 3:15 indicates that it is Mary who will crush the head of the serpent. Here is the English rendering of the Roman Catholic translation of that verse: Continue reading Why “Infallibility” Doesn’t Work

Infallibility’s Fatal Flaw

Trial of Pope Formosa's Cadaver
The cadaver of infallible Pope Formosus was put on trial in 897 AD, and found guilty of perjury, among other charges.

In 897 AD, Pope Stephen VII had Pope Formosus’ body exhumed and put on trial at the infamous Cadaver Synod, during which the corpse was found guilty, and stripped of his papal vestments. Pope Theodore II later convened a synod and overturned Pope Stephen’s findings, as did Pope John IX after him. But later, Pope Sergius III overturned the rulings of Theodore II and John IX, and reaffirmed the conviction of Formosus. Perhaps Formosus’ corpse will find some little comfort in the knowledge that it is still—at least for now—listed on Rome’s “unbroken line of popes” currently on display at the Vatican.

We find a papal corpse a particularly fitting background image for this post on infallibility’s fatal flaw. The Roman Pontiff, in order that the Church may share in Christ’s infallibility, says the Catechism, “enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 891). But there is one problem: nobody knows when the Pope is speaking infallibly, nobody knows how often a pope has spoken infallibly, and nobody knows what the criteria are for when a pope is speaking infallibly. Continue reading Infallibility’s Fatal Flaw